Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Professor Charged with Stealing New Mexico Artifacts

An article by the Chicago Tribune (found via Derek Fincham) outlines a pretty sketch-sounding story in which Daniel Amick, a Loyola professor of archaeology, pleaded guilty to violating the Archaeology Resources Protection Act and was charged with one year's probation. Amick admitted to removing 17 artifacts from public lands on two field trips to New Mexico. Amick agreed to return the artifacts and help investigators track down the others that are still missing. If he adheres to the terms of his probation, the charges will be dropped and he will have no record. Two others were implicated in the investigation, including an arrowhead hunter who would document the location of his finds with a GPS device, pocket the artifacts, and pass the information along to Amick. Amick's attorney asserted that Amick's decisions were academically motivated.

Academically motivated my hindquarters. As an archaeologist, Amick would be well aware of the laws that require him to obtain a research permit before excavating or removing any historical objects on public lands. The fact that he failed to do so, and that he worked with a arrowhead hunter who sold artifacts on eBay, seems to indicate less than academic concerns for the objects he was handling.

Amick hasn't just blatantly ignored laws that exist for good reason, but he has failed his students and neglected to protect the archaeological heritage he is supposed to safeguard. No one expects their professors to act in opposition to what they teach. It's very disappointing to find this kind of corruption within the archaeological and academic communities.

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